Grab the parka, ski cap, mittens, and galoshes. It’s time for baseball.
From Dodger Stadium to Yankee Stadium, there was a flurry of activity as teams got ready for Opening Day today.
At Great American Ball Park, there actually were flurries. Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and the Brewers worked out as snow fell yesterday, a day before they were to play in Cincinnati. The conditions were better suited for snowballs than baseballs, too, when the Reds later took the field.
“I love it. I love the weather,’’ Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips deadpanned.
The forecast for several of the six openers today wasn’t much better, either: rain with temperatures in the 40s in Washington, New York, and Kansas City, and downright chilly in Cincinnati.
“If you’re playing golf and it’s 33 and windy, you take it into the clubhouse and play cards. Unfortunately we have to keep playing,’’ said the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira, whose team is set to face the Tigers in the Bronx’s first March game. “It’s not easy playing in the cold but the good thing is both teams have to do it.’’
Curtis Granderson was expected to return to the Yankees’ lineup today. Out with a strained muscle since March 22, the center fielder had two doubles and an RBI in a minor league game in Tampa, and said he was hoping to fly to New York last night.
The Brewers will be without outfielder Corey Hart, put on the disabled list yesterday because of strained muscles in his left side, and the Reds won’t have pitchers Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey, on the DL as expected because of shoulder problems.
In Kansas City, the long-woeful Royals had a better record — 20-10-1 — than anyone in the exhibition season and scored more runs — 230 — than any other team in the Cactus League.
But they’re also the franchise that has just one winning season in the past 17 years and will launch the year against the Angels with five rookies, including four in the bullpen.
In Washington, even Nationals opening day starter Livan Hernandez wished Stephen Strasburg could have taken that assignment.
Hernandez is proud to be pitching against Derek Lowe and the Braves in Game 1, but he also knows that Strasburg probably would have gotten that honor if not for September’s reconstructive elbow surgery.
The Braves’ manager will be Fredi Gonzalez, not Bobby Cox, who retired after last season.
In St. Louis, Albert Pujols is about to begin what could be his final season with the Cardinals. The team expects a rousing welcome for the three-time NL MVP, even though Pujols is playing contract hardball off the field.
In Los Angeles, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw figures there is no better time than the opener for his team to measure itself against the world champions.
The 23-year-old lefthander starts tonight against Tim Lincecum and the Giants, who dominated the headlines long after the Dodgers’ season ended without a playoff appearance.
The Giants will be without All-Star closer Brian Wilson, on the DL because of a strained oblique, and Cody Ross, their best hitter during the playoffs, who has a strained calf.
Starting tonight, the Dodgers will wear a patch in memory of Hall of Fame outfielder Duke Snider throughout this season and will celebrate his life on Aug. 9 at Dodger Stadium.
With all the goings-on, perhaps Reds manager Dusty Baker summed it up best, when he said, “Even after all these years, there are still butterflies. If you still have the same joy as you did as a kid, you remember the Opening Day Little League parade. It’s the best game.’’